>> Saturday, 19 December 2009
It’s 3 hours away from my flights’ check-in time here at terminal 3 Cebu Pacific hub, sitting on the baggage trolley at the corner cradling my charging laptop. The entrance caught my attention of constant buzzing sound coming from the metal detector. A lady of her late 40’s who was inspecting everyone who gets in the terminal wasn’t doing her job well enough. Why do I think so? A Caucasian man entered and the alarm rang, which meant he had some metal somewhere, she tried to ask him but before she even said a word, the man swiftly answered that it must have been his watch, his belt…and the lady got him off.. so what just happened with that? If I would be standing there in front of the man I would have said… “Oh I see, now, could you please take your belt off and your watch…put in the scanner and go back again. Would you think that’s harsh? I don’t think so. I don’t think so compared to what happened to me.
Do we have a tolerant society? Or because he is a foreigner or because the lady was tired and sleepy?
I will tell what I just had with my 3-day journey to home. Stressful!
Today is my last flight to Davao, my home. This is my third day. I am so exhausted, my knees are constantly aching and my head is pulsating painfully, I wouldn’t mind banging it on the wall just to counteract the pain.
Day 1 : I went to Heathrow taking the first coach at 6am from Wellow. It saved me 2oGBP from taking the afternoon coach.
My flight was not until 10 in the evening, so I had to wait 14 hours at the airport. I would be traveling to HK via EL AL, changing planes at Israel’s, Ben Gurion Intl airport. I wished I didn’t book this flight. You will know why.
I managed to keep myself “busy”. I was so bored and tired and really wanted to shut my eyes but I don’t want since I am a deep sleeper. I would’ve shut down completely. I spent the next 4 hours sitting at a café having the largest cup of latte they could offer. Then, I went downstairs to the shops waltzing my way along the aisle trying to kill the time by aimlessly looking around. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry except me.
I finally decided to sit down to one of the seats near El Al airline check in counters. After a few minutes an old man of his 80’s sat next to me. He was scouring inside his trolley, as if trying to find something missing. After a while, he took out a bag full plastic canisters “ baon”, he skipped a seat away from me and laid everything, bananas, a gooey whitish dessert (must have been trifle or something), a pack full of biscuits, some yellowish pudding, a jug of milk and a flask full of coffee. Ei, perfect, I was thinking, this will keep me entertained. For the next 30 minutes, he ate everything. You’d think I was staring at him but I was using my peripheral vision while looking straight at the store in front of us. I thought, ow geezz…Lolo must have been very hungry. He let out a big burp and said sorry…I turned my head around and smiled..full? then a conversation that lasted 6 hours began.
He was Jewish, our conversation went about life, my life, his family, his sons, his wife, his religion, muslims, war, Jerusalem, Christianity, tiger woods, yes tiger woods and his 9 mistresses, oh 12 I mean, Berlusconi’s smashed face, of how we both have interest in astrology, women and their temper. At one point, He said, I don’t know you, you are a complete stranger and so I think its ok to talk about what I feel inside, you know, letting out. I could see his teary eyes when he talked about his wife, of how she refused to go with him for the blessing of his brother’s grandson, I forgot the name of the blessing but it has something to do with a boy becoming a man in Jewish. The conversation went about with his daughter-in-law, he was trying not to let a teardrop fall. Then he tried to console himself, saying its ok..its ok…we have to be good, you have to be good..it must be the way of life. We talked about my job, about how I came in the UK and of why I am leaving. I told him about how we care for our grandparents, that we don’t have care homes in the PH that much since we tend to care for them ourselves. It is a way of giving back. I said it would be a shame for us to put them in care homes.
He said, I wish you could go out in Ben Gurion so you could meet my family. At this point, I don’t know his name still.
After long hours of waiting, finally it was time to check-in. We were the first in line, the Jewish Lolo and I. He was on the regular side of the line. I, on the other hand was called to go to straight to the security officer and there I was, interrogated with too many questions that were sometimes stupid and irrelevant. The security could have asked the color of my knickers and I would have told him, I wasn’t wearing one. Ok that was a joke, but seriously, he called the head of security and again a string of endless “security” questions went over and over again. He then again called the airport head of security, they had a talk a few meters away from me, well, while looking at me. It felt like I am terrorist. I felt so nervous, confused, and at the back of my head …why do you always get in trouble..why do you always get in trouble…tsk after a few minutes, the security went back and asked me again
What is the name of your husband?
Is he Austrian?
What is the meaning of his name?
It must have a meaning
Well, if in your country sir there is a meaning to every name then in our country every name doesn’t have to have a meaning. My second name charisse, doesn’t have a meaning. (by this time I am annoyed already, it has been 45 minutes since check-in)
Have you been to to the middle east.
No, well yes, connecting flight. You know.
Do you know anyone from the mid east
Yes, my husband
Where is he
Why is he there, what is doing there?
He is working there as an engineer
What kind of an engineer
When was the last time you saw him
A month and a half ago
Why are wearing that scarf. (I was wearing a black and white scarf that resembles that of the arab scarf, you know that red scarf they put round their head.
Well, it is a gift from my husband
It looks new
Yes it is, he gave it to me when we saw each other back in ph
You said he only goes home once a year
Yes and we saw each other a few months ago. 1.5 months in ph
So you went home
Yes as you can see in my passport
Why are you here (oh my lord, not again)
I went back to finish my contract.
You said you were studying
Yes I was, not anymore. As I don’t have intention to renew my visa.
You’d think he was done with me. But it took him another 30 minutes to ask me questions. I wished he would just say, no we cant let you in this flight, here’s 600 pounds, go and get another flight to HK.. I would have said YES! Thank you sooo much! But sadly he didn’t.
He let me waited for 20 minutes after that then a female security asked me a few questions about my baggage. What’s inside? Any muslim-related stuff, any electronics, any sharps, are all mine?, and so on and so forth…She said we are going to scan it, open it, check it, and seal it again. You cannot have any hand luggage with you in the plane.
Did I hear it right. No hand luggage in the plane. I am going to wait for 15 hours in Tel Aviv with nothing.
Then I said, I will have food, I cannot go without any food, toiletries, my laptop, celfone ipod.
She said uhhmm…I said,,,miss 15.5 hours of wait right.
She then said ok., you can have your food. Toiletries, toothebrush, she said no. the airline will provide you. Ok
Any other items. No.
Don’t worry, the food in Ben Gurion is way cheaper than here.
I am not buying any food. I bought food already so I will have this.
Then she asked me to open my luggage, took my laptop, scanned it from some room, checked everything, opened everything, got my charger and asked why it has electrical tapes.. (hehehe) I said it isn’t working properly so I put tape on it. But if it’s to cause you trouble with checking, then bin it.
You don’t need it? She asked.
I said I do, but I don’t want to cause trouble with it so you can bin it.
Can I have your shoes?
A male security went in and offered me water, smiling, he said you shy girl just ask! I said well, I’m nervous with all these. Thanks for the water. It’s holy water, he said. Oh nice. I could use it. (well at least that calmed my nerves a bit)
After that, the lady security officer went out with my shoes and told me I could leave my things and she will be the one to check it in. I said well, my supposedly hand luggage doesn’t have a lock. She said I’ll have it sealed before check-in. Ok, so I went out and proceeded to find my departure gate. I realized she gave me just one boarding pass. I went back again and asked for the tel aviv-hk boarding pass, waited for another 20mins.
I went to the departure gate, and there Lolo was waiting for me. He noticed I was upset and asked me why and where are my things. I said they took all of it. He said I will complain for you. I said no, it’s security purposes. No, they are mean, you are not a terrorist! he went loudly, that other passengers waiting were looking at us already (arrgghhh). I said, no you don’t have to, as long as I can have it back intact that’s fine with me. But I couldn’t help but be upset about it.
Lolo was so loud, I wish I disappear or melt or shrink. The other passengers, mostly Jewish, Israelis, looked serious, looking at me, but not angry serious. Just serious, like trying to read me or something. You’d think, I was paranoid. I was. Alienated is the term.
Lolo tried to cheer me up. I can buy u a drink, would you like to have a drink? Water? Juice? I said no I’m fine. Burger? Food? Chocolates..here here I have so many..you see I bought a packet. Would you like to have wine? I bought 4 bottles for 15 pounds, you can have one! I said, no I’m ok. (trying to smile) . He said, I just don’t want you to be sad. You are not a terrorist (my goodness, please don’t say that word!waaaaa) I laughed. I’m ok, don’t bother yourself, I’m upset of course but I’m ok. I’ll get by.
After a few minutes he offered me food again, he said he would buy something from the vendo machine not far, I said no please seriously I’m ok. I’m full. Anything? Food money? I said, No. He offered me chocolates again…he said please take some, please ..so I took one…he offered another and I took it again…I just ate one. I assured him that I’m ok., don’t worry. Poor Lolo.
Finally, boarding time. I was called in first. The security lady asked me to take my clothes off. I thought she wanted me to go naked, I’d probably say..this is it! I am done! Not naked of course she said. Just your jacket. So I took one, two, three. Bewildered, she asked why are you wearing so many clothes. Looking blankly at her, I said. Its winter? I get so cold. She said, I’m not, I even feel hot with just my blazer. I said, well maybe you got used to the cold, I grew up in a 36-degree country.
Turn, front then back again then turn front then back, scanned and chemically checked my clothes, my chips, wallet, other food, shoes (again) asked me to demonstrate how I use my cellphone, my ipod, . I was one of the last 10 people that went inside the aircraft, together with a Caucasian man who tried to talk to me, he felt sorry of why I would have to go through all of it. Cheeky bugger, must have heard me and granpa talking. But he was ok.. I said. Well…I have a story to tell. I am upset but I think of it as funny now. I’m innocent so why would I be concerned so much. It is not a convenient situation to be in. It wasn’t a nice feeling to be interrogated but I would want to think it for security reasons. ok. that’s fine. (yeah as if I would fly with El Al again!)
Finally, I am in the aircraft, peace at last. So put your seatbelts on passengers, well uh…uhmmm…where is my seatbelt? No seatbelt in my seat..oh well lovely..took my things away, interrogated me, and then no seatbelt for me..whats next…do you want to just kill me? Right now? Please do..please. So I calmly ask the flight attendant, uh I have no seatbelt, she checked my seat, looked confused as to why it doesn’t have a seatbelt on. No fuss. She got me one. Attached it. And there..BUT hang on…she attached it the other way around..so the belt was twisted…yes,,a twisted seatbelt..thank you very much. Now please leave me and let me die eeerrrr sleep peacefully.
I slept. For 3 hours in the plane. When I woke up, it was just a few minutes away to landing, well good. But before everyone started to get their bags, announcement, DIOSANTA ELNER, please proceed to the aircraft gate right now. Wow. Special mention. I like. Perfect! Now all eyes are on me again. Arrgghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!
There 2 security ladies were waiting and one of the crew, when he saw me shouted , You you diosanta!! Here she is.. (ok hush my dear I am here.. I am not going anywhere mylove as I was saying in my head…what can a girl with twig-gy arms and legs can do?! Ha!!! Ok.i am here. Now please everyone, BE CALM!!!)
I was calm. I was actually trying to put a smile on my face while with the security officers (mind you I don’t smile a lot), smiling, trying to let the passengers know hey I am harmless ok this is just for security purposes. Or am I trying to prevent myself from further humiliation by smiling as if I am enjoying this, trying to think I am the queen of England.
So they escorted me, through a room, another security guy with brushed up hair like he put some good pomade on it came, ok I was thinking, are they going to exterminate me? Hahaha …..Jesus, God please, I love my family, I can’t die like this. I am going home. Please just let me go home (I said to myself). They were talking in their own language. I asked them, am I ok? Is this a normal thing like does this usually happen. The guy said, well the problem is, you are going to stay here for 15 hours, it’s too long. So I said, if you can get me an earlier flight to HK I would be very happy and willing to go. He called someone from the phone, after a few minutes, he said no flight earlier since there is only one flight to HK everyday. (see, that’s your answer my dear, so you are going let my ass hang around in your country for a while..ok..I promise I’ll be good, I will not move an inch) I said ok…so what do I need to do now. I need to use the internet, I want my family to know I am ok and I am already here in Israel, I need food as I will be waiting for 15 hours. Come with me, the guy with slick hair said. He gave me food passes, he let me use the internet, and he is very friendly, not smiling friendly, but serious kind of friendly. So are the security ladies, they said goodbye but before that they said I could tour around the airport, go to duty free and buy something, anything. I said, ok Thanks! And the women also said I wouldn’t be checked again..oh I said,, thank God for that! =)
Trust me. I went out of my seat just to claim my food from that food passes, went back again to my departure gate. Sat there, took countless naps, and just sat there. I never moved an inch. I felt like somebody was watching me from afar or maybe a camera of some sort. Like if I do something foolish, a sniper would shoot my head instantly. I was that paranoid I just sat there, like a statue. Well pretending to be comfy and all.
So finally boarding, a bit nervous as I wouldn’t want to go thru that ordeal again. El Al rep scanned my boarding pass, but it said.. CHECK THE SCREEN! What on earth does that mean again.. check the screen, she let me aside and asked me to wait a few more minutes, and proceeded with other passengers, the other lady checked my status…made a phonecall..typed something on the pc and went towards me while calling my name..and thank God it is not Elner…April, here’s your pass, enjoy your flight. I replied: Lovely, Thank you!
The first thing I checked in my seat was the seatbelt…of course it was there…oh dear no more mishaps. I went on to check the in-flight movies…nice, I would want to watch time traveller’s wife..ei..where are my headphones..you would probably think at this time..it felt like someone’s making my journey as terrible as possible. I had the courage to ask for a pair of headphones, the flight attendant readily gave me one. Oh there, not so bad ei.
So I clicked time travelers wife, but Up, the cartoon movie went on instead…goodness..pressed home to go back to the main menu..the screen went gray and a notice was displayed, do you want to exit the movie. I select exit, the other one is cancel. Then gray. I waited a few minutes and still the same. To sum it all up my telly didn’t work during the entire flight of 9.45 hours to HK. Neither the touchscreen nor the manual remote helped. All I could do was sigh.
Then the captain announced that there has been a change in weather forecast just after take off so we would be experiencing some turbulence. Well, what ever worst could happen then. Of course didn’t I anticipate that? I did. I was thinking, Oh, maybe the next thing would be to find my lifeless dismantled body somewhere in the Himalayas. I though well, not bad, sudden death, I wouldn’t feel the pain. I couldn’t be more positive than that.
I kept myself busy by sleeping, eating and trying to understand why my right knee hurt so bad, I remember a resident fell over me and twisted my leg, maybe something got misplaced in there.
Back to my journey, we arrived in HK, had to go thru the immigration since I booked a separate flight from HK to Davao, everything seemed ok. I was thinking what would else be my problem with HK, I’m asian, I even have 8 days to stay if I wanted to. Yes, everything went smoothly with HK. Thank you, at least, there’s something hassle-free moment to look back.
Arriving in Manila via Cebu Pacific was OK, although, obviously, there was no food and everything seemed to be always on sale, constant whoring with duty free items, in flight food, cebu pacific stuff, and the flight attendant kept on announcing which can be a little irritating because her microphone or sound system seemed to have a problem, that sometimes it could really get loud, enough to break an eardrum.
I had to take my check-in baggage, go thru immigration and customs and wait for 5 hours for my flight to Davao. That’s when I started writing this, as you can see…
At 2:00am, I went on to line up for check in, I noticed there was a huge pile of people waiting and it seemed the line wasn’t moving. They had to do manual check-in which means painstakingly do the recording by hand since the computer system went down. Oh of course, series of unfortunate events, coincidence? It was already 3.30am and I was still waiting to check in, the aircraft should be up by 4am. Obviously, it didn’t as they
had to wait for all of the passengers to go on board. We were late by an hour, much to my expectation. Of course I have already envisioned this.
So, here I am, sitting in between two bald –skinhead men in their 30’, both of them sleeping soundly, snoring loudly to their hearts content and my laptop is already in critical battery.
This is my 3-day journey to home.